It's another busy week for electric vehicle pioneer, solar installer and battery supplier Tesla — both on the production front and in the rumor mill. And once again, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is on Twitter defending his disruptive company from rumors, as well as spreading a few of his own.
: Teslas are stored in large numbers in parking lots across the West Coast. Twitter has photos
. Is Tesla trying to stockpile cars in Lathrop, Calif. and Burbank, Calif. to avoid triggering the EV tax credit reduction?
Nope. "We use Lathrop as a loading hub for cars being shipped to other locations for delivery to customers," a Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider
. "As our deliveries increase, we're obviously going to have more cars there." By design, Tesla doesn't have the car lots of a national dealer network to store and finance its inventory.
That one gets an emphatic "no" from Tesla. “The notion that Model 3 cancellations are outpacing orders is unequivocally false,” a Tesla spokesperson told Reuters
. Musk called Needham's claim "bs" on Twitter
and went on to say there were over 2,000 Model S/X and 5,000 Model 3 *new* net orders" for that particular week.
: Tesla asked its suppliers to provide refunds for goods or services dating to 2016, according to Bloomberg
There's a little truth in there. And maybe a walk-back from Tesla. The Wall Street Journal
obtained a memo last week in which Tesla asked its suppliers for cost reductions. A Tesla spokesperson explained that the request was made to fewer than 10 suppliers and was "related to capital expenditures for long-term projects that started as far back as 2016 and aren’t complete." Tesla later went on to say that only future price concessions were being discussed, not retroactive payments, according to MarketWatch
Tesla news recap, Musk apologizes
Here's a recap of some of the more exciting Tesla news from the last few weeks.
That $7,500 federal tax credit for your Tesla is going away
. Tesla has sold a total of 200,000 electric vehicles (as of this month), a figure which triggers the halving of its federal tax credit to $3,750 starting in 2019, as well as another halving later that year. The good news is that Tesla has sold 200,000 EVs.
Musk apologized to Thai rescue team cave diver Vernon Unsworth for calling him "pedo guy" on Twitter. To recap, the CEO of a $50 billion market cap automotive miracle took the time to call a cave diver hero a pedophile. Musk can be a jerk, but his desire to help in this instance seems genuine, according to this nuanced account.
Just a few days before the second quarter earnings call, Ganesh Srivats, VP of Tesla's North American sales, resigned
from the firm to become CEO of online retailer Moda Operandi, according to Business Insider
. Every large company, automotive or otherwise, experiences employee turnover. But the executive churn at Tesla is remarkable. GTM has covered it here
Federal Election Commission filings revealed
Musk as a $38,900 donor to a Republican PAC dedicated to keeping Republicans in control of Congress, as first reported in Salon. Musk made the case for his environmental bona fides a day later with a solicited statement from the Sierra Club. Musk also revealed the up-until-then anonymous $6 million donation he had made to the Sierra Club
. Over the years, Musk has contributed to candidates across the political landscape.
GTM's Julian Spector reported on Tesla's agreement to build a car and battery factory in Shanghai with the capacity to produce 500,000 cars a year
. According to Spector, that will give Tesla a bigger global production footprint, as well as a tariff-free supply in the world’s largest EV market.
On the trade-war front, Spector notes that China was planning to reduce its 25 percent tariff on imported cars, but instead raised it to 40 percent for U.S.-built vehicles in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs. He adds, "That means Teslas, which already cost more in China, just got more expensive."
Responding to delivery worries over Tesla's Powerwall energy storage device, a Tesla spokesperson told GTM
that Powerwall deliveries continue globally for orders already placed, and that new orders placed this month will be delivered at the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019. As for PV, the company remains bullish on traditional solar for both commercial and residential rooftops and claims a four- to six-week span from sale to install. GTM commenters and other sources have suggested that bulk volumes of Powerwalls are being shipped to Australia and Puerto Rico.
Musk drawing negative attention
When it comes to judgments of Tesla or its CEO Elon Musk, there's very little middle ground in the media, social or otherwise. If you wade through Twitter or Reddit or the Tesla owner groups, you'll find the camps pretty much polarize into either the Tesla is going bankrupt in three months group or the Elon is a genius and Tesla stock is headed for $1,000 group. Compare Musk's Twitter feed and the Twitter feed of Tesla short TeslaCharts for a study in contrasting viewpoints.
Fortune magazine suggests that Musk is "increasingly drawing negative attention to himself in the public eye" and that this will hit Tesla’s share price, as well as the reputation of Musk's SpaceX, the rocket company that is highly dependent on government contracts.
Tesla share price is down 1.9 percent to $297.43 at Wednesday's market open. Tesla's second-quarter earnings call is this week. Be on the lookout for word on the $35,000 "mass-market" car. Will Tesla confront its looming debt obligations? Can Tesla get into the black in the second half of this year and show positive cash flow?